Kazakhstan to introduce protections against alcohol imports from Eurasian Economic Union

During the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council, held on Aug. 25-26 in Cholpon-Ata, the Prime Ministers of the EEU member states discussed the formation of a common alcohol market within the Eurasian Economic Union. The document aims to eliminate barriers that individual EEU member states set for imports from other EEU member states.

"We have been working on the document for more than 10 years. But we still cannot reach consensus on some positions. We insist on the abolition of the institution of special importer, which exists in Belarus today and is an insurmountable barrier for goods from Kazakhstan and other EEU countries. The Belarusian side proposes to introduce quotas for its imports of alcohol. But our position is also negative. We insist on the complete removal of the barrier to alcoholic products throughout the Eurasian Union," the Acting Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Trade and Integration, Serik Zhumangarin, commented on the results of the meeting in Cholpon-Ata.

According to statistics, the domestic market of alcoholic beverages in Kazakhstan for the first half of this year, compared with the same period last year, imports increased by 15.7% (from $18.5 to $21.4 million).

Alcoholic beverages imports from Russia increased by 31.9% to $14.9 million and from Belarus by 7.7% to $2.8 million. Meanwhile, exports from Kazakhstan to EEU countries decreased by 24.8% and totaled only $10 million ($10 million in Russia and $0.02 million in the Kyrgyz Republic). Export to the Republic of Belarus is equal to zero.

"We get a situation when partner countries increase the export of alcohol to Kazakhstan, which fully meets its obligations under the EEU and ensures the free movement of goods. Our Government has an opportunity to introduce the same measures to the goods in case of discrimination of our goods. Our partners know Kazakhstan's position, and in case Kazakhstan refuses to exclude restrictions, it intends to develop a set of counter measures to protect the domestic market," Zhumangarin summarized.

The parties agreed to continue discussions to find compromise solutions. The issue will be brought up again at the next meeting in October of this year.

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